Fresh fruit or cooked compotes make a swell topping for French toast, but they’re even better as a filling. With a stuffing of cranberries (or other fruits found in the following variations), you can start with lofty slices of bread yet maintain a moist center through the cooking process.–Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison
LC Decisions, Decisions Note
We confess to being easily distracted by decisions. Important decisions, anyways. You know, like what to stuff inside your Sunday morning French toast. Don’t scoff. The entire tenor of the day could very well be determined by such matters of import. Are you feeling tart and impertinent? Cranberries it is. Sorta bland and agreeable? Bananas for you. Unabashedly self-indulgent? Chocolate is the only way to go. You’ll find most of these—and other variations—below the recipe. When in doubt, just ad lib. You’re welcome.
Cranberry-Cream Cheese-Stuffed French Toast
- One loaf white bread or brioche unsliced
- 1/4 pound cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- One can jellied whole cranberry sauce
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Unsalted butter
- Vegetable oil
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Real maple syrup warmed
- Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Butter a baking sheet.
- Mash the cream cheese with 1 tablespoon sugar and the almond extract, if using, in a medium bowl. Stir in the cranberries. The mixture should be thick and chunky. Taste the filling and, if it’s too tart, add up to 1 tablespoon more sugar.
- In a shallow dish or bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, vanilla, and salt.
- Using a serrated knife, cut the bread into 8 equal slices, each about 1-inch thick. Then cut a pocket into the side of each slice of bread, carefully slicing into but not through the bread. Spoon some of the filling into the pocket of each slice. Dunk the stuffed bread slices into the egg mixture and soak them for several minutes, turning to coat them evenly, until the bread is saturated but not yet falling apart.
- Warm 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil together on a griddle or in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, briefly cook the French toast, turning once, until golden brown and lightly crisp on both sides. Place the first slices on the baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven. Continue cooking the remaining slices, adding more butter and oil as needed. When the last batch of French toast is ready, dust all the slices with confectioners’ sugar, sprinkling it through a strainer. Serve immediately with maple syrup.
Stuffed French Toast VariationsCran-Orange French Toast Add 1 to 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur to the egg mixture. Reduce the cranberry sauce in the filling by 1/2 and add 3/4 cup orange marmalade. Chocolate Stuffed French Toast Mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and almond extract, if using, for the filling. Spoon it into the bread pockets as directed, then slide a 1- to 1 1/2-ounce portion dark chocolate into each bread portion.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I highly recommend this French toast recipe to anyone in need of delicious and filling (pun intended) comfort food. That little bit of almond extract gently perfumes the cranberry-cream cheese and wafts fragrantly throughout. Cutting into the crisped warm bread and savoring the first bite is sheer heaven. You get a slight crunch from the toasted egg and a burst of sweetness from the cranberry relish. This is the kind of food that makes you sit back, close your eyes with pleasure, and slowly chew. The winter months get me craving breakfast foods for dinner and last night was no exception. I made a batch of the French toast and served it as a side for pork chops. The cranberry and pork paired remarkably well. We proceeded to relish the leftovers for breakfast this morning. The hardy toasts are mouth-watering alone — we didn’t even need maple syrup or extra sugar. Superb dish for any meal.
This cranberry-cream cheese-stuffed French toast made our brunch with friends a festive party! The dish was delicious and everyone raved about it. The combination of cranberries, almond extract, and cream cheese added a nice sweetness to the French toast. Next time I would probably add some crushed pecans to it. We’ll make this again, especially around holiday time.
Originally published January 18, 2011